Gallaudet University Press

10:4 Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bringing the Constitution to Bear

Ensuring Communication and Language
for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

“Communication and language are central to the human experience,” states Lawrence M. Siegel, author of The Human Right to Language: Communication Access for Deaf Children, “and the ability and need to convey thoughts, feeling, hopes, and information defines the human species. It is as profound and simple as that.” In his new book, Siegel cites the 1982 landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court denied Amy Rowley, a deaf six-year-old girl, her request to have a sign language interpreter in her public school classroom. To date, the Rowley decision still remains the law of the land. “And so we ask, how can this be?”

In these pages, Siegel proposes that “the right to communication and language requires the protection of the United States Constitution. It is my contention that the First and Fourteenth Amendments to our Constitution mandate that Amy Rowley and other deaf and hard of hearing children have that which virtually every other American child takes for granted—the right to exchange ideas and information in school—and that current federal law violates those constitutional rights.” Additionally, Siegel wishes to “provide examples of the ways in which deaf and hard of hearing children are denied access to communication and language in school and to suggest a legal strategy to ensure their right to communication. To help a child express and receive ideas and information, complain about an intrusive classmate, exult over a small triumphant moment, delight in learning how to find the area of a triangle or what Monet was trying to convey through color, is to aid that child and enliven and reinvigorate our Constitution. And it will allow us to finally say about Amy Rowley, how could that have been?”

View the table of contents here, and read chapter two, The Importance of Communication and Language. Order The Human Right to Language online or by mail to receive your exclusive subscriber 20% discount. When ordering online, type “APR0820%” in the “Comments or Special Instructions” box below your credit card information.

In Disabling Pedagogy: Power, Politics, and Deaf Education, Linda Komesaroff exposes the power of the entrenched dominant groups and their influence on the politics of policy and practice in the education of deaf students. “The major topic of this book,” she explains, “is the critical analysis of pedagogy in deaf education and other issues related to deafness, such as cochlear implantation. The effects of language policy and practices, as well as medical intervention, that disempower Deaf people are discussed. In addition, I report on the ongoing political work in deaf education in Australian schools and courts, in which parents of deaf children have taken legal action to ensure that their children obtain access to Auslan, the native language of deaf people in Australia. Despite increasing interest in native sign language and a growing number of bilingual programs for deaf children around the world, the case studies illustrate the continuing struggle to bring about (or to resist) change in deaf education. The focus on deafness offers a poignant example for educators and other ‘cultural workers’ that illustrates how power is located in and perpetuated by dominant groups.”

Both the table of contents and chapter three, Curriculum of the Hearing University, are available online. Order Disabling Pedagogy now for a 20% savings off the regular price. For online orders, type “APR0820%” in the “Comments or Special Instructions” box below your credit card information. You may also order by mail.

Reference & Research Book News recently acknowledged Christopher Jon Heuer’s BUG: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution: “Heuer takes on the shifting boundaries caused by small slides as well as earthquakes between hearing, deaf and Deaf culture, including the reasons for bias, disdain and assumed superiority. In vignettes that come from ground-level real life rather than from on high his commentary is hilarious as well as wise. His material on passing from one culture to another constantly is based primarily on his personal experiences and observations but he relates to all readers, whether or not they consider themselves ordinary.” Read the introduction, On Small Things Easily Squished (and Alternative Destinies), and order BUG now.

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